Earth Defense Force 2017 is about one thing and one thing only: killing giant bugs. And occasionally robots. But mostly bugs. The game drops you in the role of a supersoldier in 2017, when a dastardly alien menace called the Ravagers has overrun the planet with ants, spiders, and other creepy crawlers that have been blown up to shockingly enormous size. The game is extremely easy to pick up and play, with standard third-person action controls and unlimited ammunition. As big as the enemies are, they go down pretty quickly, so you might think the game is a bit easy at first--but those lousy arthropods do have the advantage of numbers.
If EDF maintains its singular focus on straightforward shooting action, at least it gives you a lot of content to blast through. The game will contain 53 missions with around 150 weapons to unlock as you go, and we managed to obtain around 10 of these just during the first three or four missions. The weapons fall into a number of standard categories--rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle, grenade, rocket launcher, and so on--and while some weapons may be better suited to some situations than others, we imagine that you can pretty much always grab your favorites and get the job done.
The early levels of the game are set in an urban environment and throw mostly ants at you, with the occasional spider tossed in for good measure. After obtaining the grenade launcher, we were quite pleased (giddy, in fact) to learn that you can destroy every building, bridge, and other urban effect in sight, so eventually we probably became a bigger menace to the city than the ants as we laid waste to our surroundings with gleeful abandon. We could see EDF's shoot-everything-that-moves mentality acting as one of those nice after-work stress relievers.
Later on, though, you'll start to encounter different sorts of environments and opponents. Reps from D3, EDF's publisher, showed us a level set on a beach at sunset where gigantic bipedal robots wielding Gatling guns were storming the shoreline. With so many missions, we hope to see a similar variety as the game wears on. Some of those missions will have the occasional varied objective, too, such as defense and escort goals, but we're expecting the bottom line will always come down to killing everything before it kills you.
Luckily, you'll also have several vehicles at your disposal in select missions. There's an air bike that doesn't sport a heavy armament but will let you travel from one place to another quickly. The tank and its heavy firepower will come in handy for obvious reasons. There's a helicopter that will let you bombard the alien hordes from the air. But the most exciting vehicle is a giant suit of powered armor that will lessen the big bugs' considerable size advantage, not to mention confer massive amounts of firepower on you. And even when you don't have any of these vehicles at your fingertips, you'll be able to run around the level and recruit other EDF soldiers to your cause for a little added offensive power.
What with all the oversized insects and robots stomping around, Earth Defense Force has some obvious ties to '50s sci-fi invasion movies and the like, and luckily D3 recognized this fact in bringing the game to North America. The in-mission voice acting has a decidedly campy tone to it that fits in well with the over-the-top absurdity of the action. The game is slated to hit stores in late March, and D3 has confirmed it will be available for around $40, which seems like a pretty fair price for the unparalleled density of giant bugs.